Film on Chinese mainland-HK relationship to hit big screens
Documentary focuses on mutual aid during pandemic
Published: May 25, 2023 10:02 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Elemeet

Photo: Courtesy of Elemeet

Chinese documentary An Isle, which focuses on the mutual aid between the Chinese mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) during the pandemic, is set to hit Chinese theaters on Friday.

The film records the touching stories of ordinary people as they worked together to construct a central government-funded emergency hospital and the Lok Ma Chau makeshift quarantine facility in the Lok Ma Chau area of Hong Kong's New Territories. 

In early 2022, the SAR was hit by the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The central government approved funding to assist the construction of emergency and makeshift hospitals in Lok Ma Chau to help the region improve its treatment capacity. More than 20,000 construction workers from all over the country contributed to the projects, completing tasks that would have taken two years to complete in less than two months, a true miracle.

Time was tight and the task heavy. 

Director Cao Jinling told the Global Times on Thursday that she and the entire film crew ate and lived together with the construction crew to document the real lives of everyone involved as things unfolded. "It was a big challenge to capture representative people and some decisive moments among so many people," she said, adding that she finally picked 11 groups of people after shooting more than 30 groups.

She called the work "an occasional romance" as the scenes presented in the film were attained almost accidentally. Additionally, many of the people in the film are impressive and unique.

Cao recalled that she and her team happened to see several women dressed in the clothing of the Dong ethnic group and they later learned that the women were from Southwest China's Guizhou Province and that they had come to help twist wires. In order not to interfere with their work, the women chose to hold their daily singing session very early in the morning, which led to the beautiful scene of Dong women dressed in ethnic costumes singing and praying for good luck by the water. The song they sang was not one of their traditional folk songs, but improvised lyrics to wish Hong Kong compatriots a quick recovery. 

"The direction they are facing while singing is the direction of Hong Kong's city center. As they sing, the sun slowly rises. Shooting it took my breath away," she said.

Another important figure, a security guard surnamed Song, was actually once a hair stylist. After he saw the news about the project to aid Hong Kong, he came to work as a security guard. 

Cao said he was very kind and optimistic. He sent medicine to almost all the people he knew in Hong Kong by express delivery. At that time, the cost of the express delivery was much higher than the cost of the medicine. He also brought great positive energy to others, which was particularly impressive.

Many workers in the project are like Song, possessing a strong and selfless wish for contributing to the project rather than making a living.

Cheng Jianyong, one participant, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Hong Kong compatriots he met were very supportive as a local institution helped them optimize customs procedures by building a bridge that allowed them to enter the construction site directly and helped them save a lot of precious time.

The film bears witness to the mutual aid that took place between the mainland and Hong Kong, and embodies the miracle of China's construction speed in the new era. 

According to Cao, they also invited some famed domestic and foreign professionals to participate in the film shoot and post-production. One film colorist from South Korean told her that the documentary film allowed him to witness the unity and great strength of the Chinese people. 

The director said she planned to promote the film overseas to warm the hearts of global moviegoers and show the great spirit of the Chinese people.